Tag Archives: Gun Control

Gun control will not come anytime soon

The Valentine’s Day massacre in Florida was the eighteenth school shooting of the year – claiming at least 17 lives. This unsurprisingly reignited the debate of gun control in the USA, and while many see these heinous acts  as possible catalysts for gun law reform, the events of Valentine’s Day will do nothing in the form of speeding up gun-related policy.

Almost half of mass shooting cases have involved a shooter who had been ‘red-flagged’ (i.e. someone who has a history of violence or mental health problems), as was the case with Omar Mateen – the shooter responsible for the Orlando shootings in 2016. Despite the logical assumption that lethal weapons must not be easily accessible, there are only four states with restrictions on the purchase of firearms: California, Connecticut, Indiana and Washington. Apart from Indiana, the mentioned states are all within the fifteenth percentile for lowest gun-related deaths. Generally, the states with the tightest gun-purchasing restrictions have the least gun related deaths.

The above facts are not new and is common knowledge even amongst the most ardent supporters of ‘gun rights’. These people are aware of the dangers of guns but often cite the Second Amendment to the Constitution – the protection of the right to bear arms.

Republicans also echo the same arguments as most of the gun-rights ‘activists’, probably not through ideological conviction but through their reliance on National Rifle Association (NRA) donations: the anti-gun-restriction NRA donated $50.2 million to the Republican Party during the 2016 election. The Republicans in Congress will blindly oppose even the most moderate gun-control policies – as they did in February 2017 when they repealed an Obama-era executive order which ensured background checks would be taken on those wishing to purchase guns.

It is not hard to see why Republicans are so religiously against gun-control measures, as the NRA support for Congressional Republicans during elections tends to end in a victory for the Great Old Party (GOP). Of all the state races the NRA poured funds into, only the Nevada race was unsuccessful.

The resolution to gun violence in America is not just a case of debating the pros and cons of gun control but a question of fixing the crooked patronage system which benefits the mere interest group and political party, as is the case with the NRA and Republican Party. With the GOP in control of both houses in Congress, and increasing role of interest groups funding electoral campaigns, gun reform is further away than ever.

The Revelations from the Orlando Attacks

The horrifying attack on the Pulse night club in Orlando, Florida, just over two weeks ago opened up fresh debate over the ongoing issues of gun control and homophobia that currently plague US society. There has been far less of an attempt to place the attack in the context of the terror tactics being deployed by the Islamic State who inspired it. The attack demonstrated the power that IS retains to inspire lone-actor terrorism as well as larger scale terrorist attacks in western nations, even as the noose is tightened around its neck by the Iraqi army in Fallujah. The specificity of the attack against a gay nightclub also represents a chilling new dimension to the tactics of IS.

What made the Orlando shooting more disturbing than other major terrorist attacks of recent times is that it deliberately targeted LGBTQ people. It was more than a mere attempt to spread the fear of losing one’s life amongst members of a population or to forcibly coerce a government to take a certain action, but to make people afraid of expressing their sexuality. Additionally concerning, is the suggestion that pre-existing prejudices that exist toward LGBTQ people in European and US societies could fuel similar attacks and serve as a potent recruiting tool for IS. There is a strong suggestion that Omar Mateen, the perpetrator in this instance, was fiercely homophobic.

Although Mateen pledged allegiance to IS prior to his murderous act, there remains considerable doubt over how much direct influence they had in motivating him. Mateen had lived his entire live in the US and had a history of mental illness. These two factors would preclude him from having had any physical contact with IS and would suggest an alternative reason for his actions respectively. Yet the fact that he undeniably fell under their influence clearly demonstrates the continued power that their ideology has to inspire such acts.

It is unclear how long it will take to eradicate the influence of this ideology. What recent events have also demonstrated is that IS will exploit every conceivable societal division that they can in order to further their deadly ambitions. Keeping society cohesive in Europe and the US therefore, will be as much a blow to IS as any victory won against them in the field.